Updates from Brad Locke of the Daily Journal…
Since the end of the 2011-12 season, four scholarship players and two walk-ons have left the Bulldogs. Perhaps the biggest loss came Sunday, when freshman guard Rodney Hood announced his intention to leave the team and transfer.
There had been hope that Rick Ray, who was hired last week, could hold on to Hood, who would’ve been the Bulldogs’ top returning scorer (10.3 ppg), rebounder (4.8) and assist man (2.0). But the Meridian product, citing a “long, tough year,” decided to move on.
Hood’s early departure follows those of freshman DeVille Smith, who is transferring, and juniors Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney, who have opted to go pro.
On top of that, walk-ons Reed Clayton and Charles Parker have left the program. So MSU currently has just five scholarship players and two walk-ons on its roster.
Former coach Rick Stansbury signed five players during the fall period, but there’s no guarantee all of them will wind up in Starkville. Josh Gray, a point guard who averaged 23.8 points and 5.9 assists for Wheatley (Texas) High School last season, intends to ask for a release from his scholarship.
That would make signee P.J. Hardwick the lone point guard on next year’s squad. He intends to stick with the program.
Even if Ray can hold on to all five signees, that still leaves three more available scholarships. The NCAA allows teams to have a maximum of 13 players on aid. The spring signing period begins Wednesday and ends May 16.
New men’s basketball coach Rick Ray has added another assistant coach. The school announced this afternoon the hiring of Chris Hollender, who’s been an assistant at Evansville the past three seasons.
Prior to that, Hollender spent seven years as an assistant at Army. He’s a graduate of Evansville (1998), where he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference performer. He had a short pro career before getting into coaching.
This past season, Evansville went 16-16, including a 9-9 mark in MVC play. It lost to Princeton in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. During Hollender’s three years there, Evansville posted a record of 41-53, including a 21-33 mark in league play.
Hollender is the third hire by Ray, who last week retained MSU assistant George Brooks and brought in former Auburn standout Wes Flanigan from Nebraska. State is also expected to hire Adam Gordon, the director of basketball operations at Northern Colorado. That would complete the staff.
Read more about these stories in Tuesday NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.